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Henley Business School students work with South African NGOs

Children in the SHINE reading academy

Children in the SHINE reading academy - one of the organisations to benefit from the collaboration

'The programme is about doing real work for real people, moving away from an academic ivory tower approach and challenging students to use their intelligence and creativity.' Jon Foster-Pedley, dean and director of Henley Business School in South Africa

A unique learning initiative between South African Non Government Organisations (NGOs) and the Henley Business School has provided innovative business solutions for a range of Cape-based organisations.

2011 will the see the sixth in a series of unique learning initiatives between South African NGOs and the Henley Business School. Designed and implemented by the Henley faculty and by Jon Foster-Pedley, now dean and director of Henley Business School in South Africa, the programme links MBA students and Cape Town-based NGOs in a practical, collaborative partnership.

Each year, a group of 40 Henley MBA students tackle a range of needs-based business challenges posed by NGOs that work in a variety of fields, from housing to HIV/AIDS to education to providing children's homes. Their business needs have ranged from strategic marketing and fundraising campaigns to organisational development. The SHINE child literacy programme is just one of the NGOs to benefit from this learning partnership.

Jon Foster-Pedley said: "The idea behind the programme is to promote learnerships that have a practical impact for good. It's about doing real work for real people, moving away from an academic ivory tower approach and challenging students to use their intelligence and creativity. It's learning on a very profound level, one which involves both an ethical and spiritual edge."

To date, more than 150 Henley MBA students have participated in the programme in South Africa, representing about 1200 days of free expert middle and senior management time. This equates to about £1million worth of free executive consulting.

The Cape Town NGO programme forms part of the core programme and of the Reputation and Relationship module of the Henley MBA. Foster-Pedley began the first series in 2005. He has been at the helm of strategy, systems thinking and workplace learning in executive leadership programmes both in the corporate world and a number of international business schools.

Foster-Pedley explained further: "We started the programme with the idea that it should be mutually beneficial to both parties. It's designed to benefit the NGO in as many ways as they wish to use it. They are able to call on a skilled consulting team to solve a specific business issue. This helps to deliver high quality service provision to their stakeholders, and introduces new ideas and thinking into their organisation."

"At the same time, the business students are faced with a real-time, real-life challenge. They need to work as a team, in an environment that is outside their usual experience, and produce results that will have a positive impact."

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